Sunday, September 06, 2009

A Very Model Practice

Washington Post today has a story about Group Health Cooperative, the Washington State health care system that has served this area for the past 60 years. The cooperative, which is both insurer and provider, is often mentioned as an alternative to the public option in reforming health care finance. Group Health has a good reputation and the number of complaints is minuscule compared to other insurers. The description of care at Group Health reads much like the VA practice model:
Everything at Group Health's 26 clinics are integrated. So when a patient meets with their doctor, all their records with any other Group Health specialist is immediately available. Patients are encouraged to make appointments online, and e-mail or call their physicians with questions, keeping them from having to make frequent office visits for easily answered concerns. Group Health says that it saves more than $12 million a year by resolving routine patient questions through a 24-hour phone line that is staffed by nurses and doctors.

I don't know if the VA saves $12 million a year with its 24/7 phone line. I do know that I can speak with a nurse at any time if I have a concern.

What the Group Health and VA practice models tell me is that cost-effective health care is possible. What's best is that these models emphasize primary care, a service that is increasingly scarce in the contemporary fee-for-service model.

Neither may be a panacea but both are models should be strongly encouraged in the way we pay for health care.



Blogger saveus said...

Was just re-reading this post after last night's speech by Obama. By the way, since that Wilson fellow didn't get a copy of page 143 of the bill (3200), I say we all send him one. By snail or e mail.

•HR 3200 IH
1 by the Commissioner, the Commissioner may impose
2 an additional penalty.
5 Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments
6 for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are
7 not lawfully present in the United States.

Here's an email address, since his website is down due to high traffic:

10:31 AM  

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